Facebook’s quest to get humanity to spend every waking moment in a Facebook-owned app has ruined Messeger lately. Right now, Messenger is far more about Stories and photos than it is about communicating with specific people, which is dumb.
Even worse is that Facebook does make a good Messegner app. It’s called Facebook Lite, and it’s a stripped-down, data-friendly version of Messenger aimed at users in developing countries, who have slower phones and limited data connections. Officially, it’s not offered in North America, but The Verge has noticed that there’s a workaround. The only catch is that it’s Android-only.
Android allows users to “side-load” apps, which means that if you can find the APK file of the app from somewhere other than the Play Store, you can install it. Luckily, dozens of sites on the internet keep APKs for all popular apps, which means downloading Messenger Lite takes about as long as a Google search.
Once you’ve downloaded the file, you’ll need to go to Settings, Security (the option varies depending on the device) and allow installing apps from unknown locations. (You only need to turn this on for a couple minutes.) Once you’ve done that, you can download the APK, click it, and go back to undisturbed messenging.
As The Verge points out, Messenger Lite does strip out good features like Messenger’s built-in camera and video calling. But anything’s worth it to see those stupid Story clones go away.
There’s no easy way to sideload apps in iOS. You can technically jailbreak your phone, but that’s a difficult and convoluted process at the best of times. Probably the easiest option, if you’re dead-set on downloading Messenger Lite, is to switch your Apple account to a country where Messenger Lite is available. To do that, you’ll need a prepaid credit card and address in that country, which can be annoying and expensive to set up.